Reconsidering Safety

David Krysh, Lawn & Landscape - June, 2020

David Krysh is Wilson & Co. practice leader for smarter recruiting and specializes in helping landscape companies maintain a healthy pipeline of candidates.

Is safety a core value, an actionable objective, a mindset or a priority?

The answer is, all of the above.

Today more than ever, safety and health strategies are inextricably entwined as drivers of performance, culture and risk management. As the pandemic disrupted norms for human interaction and social distancing became a thing, businesses across our industry faced a new set of workplace challenges.

Before COVID-19, workplace safety was hazard, job site and incident- and injury-related. Post-COVID, the safety story is broader: It’s about having cultural practices in place so workers don’t get sick and infectious disease agents don’t spread.

At some point, this crisis will pass and when it does, one thing is certain: Our businesses will all be better positioned to prosper with accelerated prevention measures and a precautionary mindset.

At the tactical level, advanced health and safety workplace programs manage exposure and liability, and reflect a long-term vision of your leadership in the communities and clients you serve. More importantly, from a recruiting and retention standpoint, a safe place to work will make your business a great place to work. New hires and job-seekers will prioritize their personal health and safety as well as their career paths. When hiring for cultural fits, if your culture stresses cleanliness, it’s a competitive advantage.

June is National Safety Month, and while the health and safety of your employees and the clients you serve should be celebrated every month, here are a few best practices that can have a big impact on your post-pandemic success.

1. Recognize the difference between a safety manager and a safety leader.

A manager makes things happen; a leader shows you why it’s important. Most companies are very strong on the managing side. They know how to implement. When leaders get it right, it’s an example for the rest of the team. If senior management doesn’t get it right, then everything else is like swimming upstream.

2. Integrate safety into the processes of the business.

Make safety strategically actionable and an extension of your workplace brand. Offer safety training and certification, have emergency preparedness meetings, offer CPR and health fairs, find ways to seek recognition and highlight and promote safety successes. Enact best practices, procedures and processes across all levels of your organization. Publish your standards and practices to your website and include information about being a safe place to work on your hiring notices.

3. Make safety measurable and accountable.

Encourage your entire team to take personal responsibility for their own and each other’s safety from the day they’re hired. Recruit, onboard, develop and train all employees around your health and safety protocols and find ways to make your staff feel protected. Include them in incident investigations, participation on audit teams, task forces and other safety and wellness-related activities. A workforce that identifies with a company’s commitment to care about them will never be mediocre.

COVID-19 changed our world and our workplace. If your company was already on the leading edge of cultural practices, not much has changed. For the rest? It’s an opportunity to usher in a new era in workplace safety.

“Take care of your employees and your employees will take care of your business,” has never been more relevant.

Reprinted with permission.

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